We’re in the months where holiday entertaining, dinner parties, hosting friends for dessert and having family gather in your abode is filling the calendar pages. Goodness, many of those calendar pages are already full! These holiday entertaining tips will help you host a festive fete to remember, AND you can even enjoy it yourself as well.
5 Easy Holiday Entertaining Tips for a Stress-Less Season
1. Time your invites.
A guest list is a huge component to a great party… and if you want people to come, sending an invite is key. Depending on your affair, it can be as casual as a text or as formal as a mailed invitation.
The key is timing. There’s a fine line between too early (people forget) and too late (they’ve made other plans). Between 2-4 weeks ahead is usually a good rule of thumb, though given the calendar-filled season, know that everyone is juggling as soon as you can get an invite out, the better it can be, for you and for your guests.
Just remember to keep it simple and yet full of the pertinent info… do guests need to bring a dish? It is causal dress? Kids or no kids? These are the questions everyone asks, so try to answer them right from the get-go.
2. Set a plan for the food and drinks.
A busy entertaining season means busy markets as well. Planning ahead will save you both time and money! For laid back affairs keep it simple with finger foods and stick to dishes you know. Once you’ve planned your menu, you can shop early and even get most of the prep work done ahead of time.
And seriously, DON’T feel bad about letting someone do the work for you. I’ve always been pretty picky about my cheese boards or charcuterie trays, but you guys, I found the magic that is Sprouts catering trays (plus their centerpiece meats and fully-prepped meals). While I usually like to select cheeses myself and haven’t entrusted someone else to make one for me before now, I tried the Signature Cheese Tray recently and it was impeccable!
Ordering the tray ahead of time from Sprouts and then stopping in for a few extra treats to go along with it (meaning less time in the kitchen, while still getting delicious finger foods on the table) totally makes a healthy and festive spread easy and affordable. Just set out the food in your own bowls and serving dishes, with a bit of leftover holiday decor, and you’ve got a great spread ready for guests!
3. Have a good playlist at the ready.
Whether you download songs or you use an app for it (there are plenty!), create a couple of great party playlists in your downtime, and before your doorbell even rings, you’ll be ready to set the mood with music. And goodness, even if you forget, a quick “Alexa, play Christmas music” even helps… and my kids already have this skill down-pat! I recommend a soft and subtle mix as well as something to get people moving, you never know what you’re going to need!
4. Set the mood.
Lighting and scents can do SO much for the atmosphere of a gathering. Dim artificial lighting, light candles (while keeping the scented ones separate from the food), turn on the twinkle lights; and watch your space and the faces of your guests glow!
5. Keep the drinks flowing.
While you’re planning your menu, think about a drink that can be made in batches and self serve! I love having food kept warm in the kitchen, and it’s easy to keep a crockpot or burner with mulled cider or wine or another batch drink ready. This way, you’re not having to mix or pour individual drinks every time a glass runs low. On the flip side, it doesn’t hurt to have other options, just set up an area where guests know they can serve themselves.
A few of our favorite party drink recipes:
- The Best Holiday Punch Recipe
- Creamy Crockpot Hot Chocolate
- Holiday Harvest Punch Recipe
- Blood Orange Berry Sangria Recipe
Now just settle in, relax and enjoy the bash yourself. As the host, you set the tone of the party, so do your prep work ahead of time and once your guests begin arriving, let your focus be on them and your time together. Running around, tired and stressed sends the wrong message. If you’ve done the planning ahead of time, you’ll feel less stressed and will enjoy the party as well!